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The Book of Daniel written by Edgar Lawrence Doctorow and published in 1971 is unequivocally referred to as the ‘novel of trauma’. Doctorow has excellently achieved popular and sizeable success and eventually rising to become a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. His fictional novel revolves around the execution and the conviction of the Isaacsons’s household and its apparent contribution on, Daniel’s traumatic or rather disaster condition. The author also succeeds in loosening the plot of the novel to base it on actual trial and execution of the New York’s communists, the Rosenbergs, who have been executed in 1963 faced with charges of conspiracy to commit espionage which led to the improvement of nuclear soviet program. This paper concentrates on the protagonist’s crisis conditions and examines the determining circumstances that contributed to the aggravation of this condition.
Critical analysis reveals that the protagonist suffered from numerous symptoms which are associated to anhedonia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychological condition that occurs due to consequences of infantile psychic trauma or simply delayed stress syndrome to respond to natural and human catastrophes (Doctorow 34). The author reveals the traumatic conditions, horror, violence and guilt that led late crisis that Daniel struggle to reconcile with alongside assimilation of these traumatic and terrifying experiences which are undoubtedly responsible for the same condition.
The crisis condition Daniel is experiencing in his adulthood cropped from several overwhelmingly terrifying and painful events at the early stages of his life. His mental disorder lies heavily on the exposure to the conviction and execution of his parents which implies that learning and experiences could have possibly exposed him to the current serious harms and crises. His psychic devastations also worsen by cumulative traumatic experiences as he tries to fight with poverty all through his childhood life terrorized by his insanity. He painfully watches his father beaten by the right-wing fanatics. These events see him wander from his repulsive aunt to orphanage after suffering a humiliation visit of his parents in the jail (Doctorow 54).
The protagonist’s condition is basically heightened by three major factors, first is the events that resulted from human design since his parents’ death are practically not natural. Secondly, Daniel is left all alone and defenseless in the society whose cruel legalities has snatched away his family from him, and lastly, the absence of his family deprive him of any possibility to achieve moral closure as he is not certain of their guilt (Doctorow 83). These tragedies in Daniel’s early life possess significant impacts in his adulthood condition in which he persistently experiences events in terrifying ways all through his life. He states that he could hardly sleep in his childhood due to nightmares (Doctorow 134). However, in his later life the early childhood nightmares seem to have paved ways for bigger obsessions and awful visions in his head. He also repeatedly recalls his sister’s last words before she went into coma (Doctorow 250).
In sum, Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel description of how life experience could pose an adverse effect of crises in an individual’s life. Perhaps, the author’s intention is to show how the past overwhelming and unsettling remnants of the trauma could fall into oblivion, and silencing them may also rejuvenate them as well. It is no doubt history repeats itself and therefore it is every individual’s duty to avoid reenactment of situations. The author apparently seeks to denounce the various ways in which social structures create perpetuating situations of victimization and crisis conditions. Additionally, he seeks to show the significance of listening to the voices of those suffering from traumatic conditions.
Doctorow, E L. The Book of Daniel. , 2014. Print.
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